One of the liqueurs I use the most is triple sec (also called cointreau), your basic orange liqueur. For example, I have used triple sec in the Grapefruit Margarita, the Mango Margarita, and the Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cocktail.
Since I have a lot of oranges on hand because of my garden and use so much triple sec, I decided to make my own.
I used Serious Eats’s recipe, which was done by Marcia from DIY Cocktails. The only odd ingredient was the Dried Bitter Orange, which you can buy in brew stores or herb specialists. You can also order it online. An entire bag costs $1.
I followed the instructions and was pleased with the result. It may not taste as good as Grand Marnier, but the liqueur has a fresh, nice orange taste without the harsh bitterness of your typical bottom shelf triple sec. I can’t wait to try it out in a margarita.
DIY Triple Sec
(Makes one 750 ml bottle)
1/4 cup zest from 3 small naval oranges
1 Tablespoon dried bitter orange
1 cup brandy (I used Korbel)
1 cup vodka (any brand)
4 whole cloves
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
To zest the oranges, I used a microplane grater. This tool allows you to quickly and easily grate the orange part of the peel off the orange and leave the pith behind.
From the recipe:
Combine zest, dried orange peels, brandy, and vodka in a small container. Seal and shake. Let steep for 19 days at room temperature. On day 20, add the cloves, then seal and shake. Let steep for an additional day.
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat stirring to dissolve. Let this simple syrup cool. Strain the contents of the jar through a fine mesh strainer and then through a coffee filter. Discard the solids. Combine the strained mixture with the simple syrup in a jar or bottle. Shake and let it rest for a minimum of one day before use. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to one year (it’s best within three months).